Fresh, Aromatic Basil Grown in Container Gardening

Basil is a great herb to add in pasta sauces as well as some other Mediterranean dishes. Although I can easily buy basil in dried form, nothing beats the flavor of fresh herbs.

This picture was taken on the first day of transplant.  I do not have the patience to start them from seeds, so I opted to buy a seedling in a local herb garden store.   The container for my basil is sized 6", although it should be around 8" in depth and diameter.  As you can see, there are two seedlings in this container.  Actually, there are 3 of them in there, the smallest one being covered by the large basil at the left.  This was bought at March 17, 2010 at 10am in the morning.  I transplanted the basil at around 3pm when the sun is still high but not that hot enough to cause stress.  The specifics on how I transplanted the basil from its seedling container is described in the general gardening section of this blog site.  I was given a pamphlet for growing basil that briefly describes how to take care of my seedlings.  Basil prefers soil that is rich, light, and drains well with a pH of 5.0-6.0.  Initially, my seedling is around 3 inches tall.

5 days later, I had the uneasy feeling that I should check on my plants as I was preparing for my daughter's graduation party... True enough, I found my plants in a sad state after they were massacred by the local birds.  Notice the leaf of the plant at the right.  The birds made a feast out of them, including the other plants in my container garden.

The leaf on the ground is part of the first pair of true leaves that the birds chomped off.  It still has the beak marks of the birds that wanted a taste of the basil.  Who can blame them, the plant was sweet-smelling and highly enticing for any birds and humans to eat them as they are.

This picture is taken on the 7th day of the transplant.  I kept the soil moist, but not wet by giving the plants deep watering whenever the soil is dry to a depth of 1-2 inches.  This is necessary as the summer sun here is really scorching and you can see the soil getting dry on the next day.  The leaves are now big and the foliage is starting to develop.  It is about 5 inches tall.  The set of leaves of the top will be the last set of vertical leaves.  New ones will have to be pinched to encourage lateral growth.

On the 8th day, I had to force myself to cut the down the other seedling.  They are starting to crowd each other inside their small space.  Basil needs at least 6 inches of land area if you wish to plant them in rows.  A container that is sized 18 inches can hold 2 plants adequately.  I sprayed the leaves with a solution of 1/2 teaspoon seaweed and fish emulsion added to 1 litter of water on the day after the transplant.  It is not a good practice, I know, but I was only able to get my hands on the emulsion that day.  The solution is sprayed on to the leaves until the water droplets start to run down on the leaves.  A cup of the solution is then poured over the soil for nourishment.  Spraying and feeding is to be done every 2 weeks to maintain the health of the soil as well as to prevent the plants from getting sick.

This is the other seedling that I removed from the pot.  I made the mistake of cutting the roots to remove them from the pot.  I had hoped that transplanting them with some roots attached will help them grow.  I also sprayed them with a solution of seaweed and fish emulsion.  I hope it will thrive soon enough.  Removing this basil was not an easy decision to make...  I plan to place a tray of chives at the along with the plants to discourage green flies that damage the leaves.

March 27, 2010, 9am in the morning.  Now, this shows promise.  My basil is now standing slightly straight, and the tops are no longer touching the protective screen that I placed around it.  It still does not look much, but this is already a huge improvement from the past couple of days.  The other plant is already established and producing shoots nicely.  This weak one had a week's worth of delayed development because of lack of roots.

March 31, 2010: It is now the second week of the initial transplant.  My  basil plants are growing nicely.  I had to sacrifice personal comfort for they were only getting up to 4 hours of direct sunlight on the veranda.  They are now located on the flower box placed on the roof deck of my husband's house.  The one in the blue-green pot is the original plant in its original soil.  This one at the right was the sad-looking plant that was separated on March 27.  I had to spray them again with fish emulsion for the amount of sun they are getting is more than what they usually.  It's a good thing that the weather is cooperating as the sky is overcast for the last couple of days.

April 5, 2010 There was a problem with the 2nd basil transplant.  For some reason, the old leaves started to dry up and turn yellow.  I do not now what to do, so I decided to just leave them be.  The new leaves are still green and growing.  I'm thinking of giving them a dose of fish emulsion on Wednesday if things do not go well.  New leaves are starting to grow, even between the old branches.  I pinched off the top new leaves to encourage lateral growth.  I then had an idea to plant the pinched branches to see if the cuttings will start to grow.  Let's wait and see what will happen.  The soil was made of clay, and I experimented by mixing about a liter of sand to make it loose.  This will not be an organic herb for I had to prepare the soil with Osmocote 14-14-14 slow-release pellets.

April 7, 2010  Sadly I would not know how this experiment with the cutting will turn out because the local birds made a feast out of it...... Which is a good thing for I've read that I did the procedure wrong.  I'll do another cutting next week and see how it will turn out.

Part of this article can be seen in growing basil in containers, hosted by Ezine Articles.